By Karen Vance
Cancer is a diagnosis that can devastate any family and shake the faith of even the most devoted.
That's why two women are volunteering their time to help those dealing with the disease through a new faith-based support group for cancer patients and their families.
Amy Malcom and Susan Fletcher are both oncology social workers with Cancer Family Care, a secular organization that provides counseling and programming for those dealing with cancer. They also discovered they attended the same church and had a similar interest in volunteering their services.
"We started talking about the way to help people through our faith," said Ms. Malcom. "And while we're at a secular agency, sometimes in our talks with people, spirituality comes to us; but it's not the focus of our work. We both wanted to a find a way to emphasize that more."
So the two have volunteered to start a faith-based support group at their church, Hyde Park Community Methodist Church, 1345 Grace Ave. The group, known as The Path, will meet on 10-11:30 a.m. Saturdays, Jan. 4 through Feb. 8.
The group is open to the public, including all religions and denominations, but there will be an emphasis on Christianity, Ms. Malcom said.
The sessions will include some Scripture study, as well as one session having optional communion.
Cancer Family Care, as a secular organization, is not directly involved in the support group, but both Ms. Malcom and Ms. Fletcher, have been among the 15 social workers there for the last two years.
The 31-year-old organization provides individual and family counseling, children and school programs, grief and bereavement counseling and an information and referral service, said Andrea Herzig , the marketing director for Cancer Family Care.
"The organization has a strong commitment to families and the people affected by cancer," Ms. Herzig said. "We don't just see the patient, but the entire family, friends, whoever needs help. And sometimes we don't even see the patient.
"Amy and Susan are just looking to put that into a church and faith-based setting."
Participation is free, but reservations are required.
For information about The Path or to make a reservation, contact Ms. Malcom at 731-3546 .
Group to perform
Them Bowmans, a country gospel music group, will perform 7 p.m. Sunday at the Trinity Christian Fellowship, 3730 Cobb Road, Williamsburg.
The free concert will feature the four-piece band, which was nominated in 2002 for the Country Gospel Music Guild's Band of the Year, Trio of the Year and Comedian of the Year.
The group, which includes Blaine Bowman, his wife, Christine and children Tiffany and Luke have had hits on the CGMG's top 80.
For information, contact the church at 724-7729.
E-mail news about church and religious groups to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 755-4150.
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